There’s a reason I haven’t been finding the time to write here- and it’s not because I feel like I’ve wrapped things up. It’s because I can’t stand the pain anymore. It’s like I reached the exact point in my labor with Audrey when, in the tub laboring on hands and knees, I literally thought- “I could drown myself and make this pain stop.” It was then I let out such a scream with the next contraction that the nurse came running in and said,”Was that her?” It was then I told you I was ready for the epidural. “Are you sure?” you said. “I’m sure.”
I’m sure. I’m prone to avoid numbing painful things. Instead I usually ruminate over them. Sometimes it’s unhealthy. With you it’s been healthy grieving- grieving is not ruminating. But sometimes I wish to get through one day without those moments of horror and realization that bring me to my knees. To shut out the realization and memories of a previous life and just proceed through the day. I still don’t understand the whole, “You can keep the love and memories but lose some of the pain,” concept. That seems like telling me I can feel the contractions while I’m numb from the waist down. I can’t feel them anymore. I’m cold and shivering. The doula says I’m having double contractions on the monitor now. I ask for another blanket. You are at my side.
There’s no doula, no nurse here. No one. And no outward representation of this inner pain beyond description.
I wish that you were sitting with me here tonight. I am hungering for a conversation with you. I want to tell you how sick Audrey’s been the last two days. How I’ve been cleaning up poop all day and how upset she is that her diarrhea smells so bad. I want to tell you also how she burst into tears while the kids on Barney acted out Little Red Riding Hood as soon as she saw the boy dressed as the wolf. She tells me later over and over again that she thinks fairy tales are scary and that when there’s an evil character, “in my heart, I feel lonely.” She is so perceptive Dan, so in tune with anything sinister in this world. That trait may be difficult for her in the future…it is for me. I think it was for you as well.
Decisions. I want to tell you that I’m feeling stressed about moving and finding a place…that I’m not sure what to do. You promised you’d help us find a place. Yet here I am doing it alone. I think a lot about how decision-making is so difficult now. Before your career at least sort of guided us- to certain music cities, or even where we are now because the commuter buses were wide enough for your cello. It is also difficult in the same way that it was right after 9/11. I heard all of the stories about how someone was late to work that day because they had to drop off their kid- and lived. Or how they went in early for a meeting- and died. In the weeks right after that shocking reality- I was nervous every time I went to take the bus back to Jersey from my job in Times Square. I had to go through the Lincoln Tunnel. I would think to myself – should I take this next bus or wait? What if I am too early. What if I’m too late. It’s kind of like that now because I wonder how many small decisions you and I made that led to your death. I question everything. I think there is also some PTSD just by receiving that phone call. My grief counselor tells me I see life now through the lens of loss. I imagine future losses and try to calmly plan my life around them. She asks me how I made decisions in the past. I tell her that I am methodical- I do all of my research. But I also trust my instinct. When I look at an apartment, I trust what I feel. I can live here, I think. I envision. But also- every previous move I’ve made- I’ve had you with me to agree. Our mutual agreement on an apartment was usually our sign.
When things get really bad I usually wind up back on the young widows board I looked at in those early weeks and again at the one year anniversary. Now I’m in the “one year and beyond” category of the forum. It comforts me to see the recent discussion about the second year being harder in many ways. Not the raw, searing pain- though that is ever-present- but the reality of your life without them…the sudden planning a whole new life from scratch thing. Where will you live. What will you do to earn a living. Your child has grown and changed and is starting to understand how it is just as she’s starting to forget you Dan. As I’m taking down the Christmas tree the other day, I tell her to watch out because when I unscrew the base, the tree is heavy and may fall out of my reach. I’m not sure I can hold it. She replies quickly that this wouldn’t happen “if my dad was here.” We rarely use the word dad, but there you have it. That great big if we’ll both feel all of our lives.
If you were here tonight, you’d be sad and make a sad face with your lip downturned when I told you about how sick Audrey was. You might almost cry. At least when she was younger, when you were here and alive, it brought you to tears to see her in any kind of pain. When I told you about the house/apartment hunt, you’d tell me not to worry- “We’ll find something.”
But you are not here tonight.
And here I am.